Paris: Susse Freres, 1839. ,79pp. plus six lithographed plates. Half title. Contemporary black and grey paper-covered boards, green spine label lettered in manuscript. Extremities a bit worn. Occasional mild foxing, with the contemporary ownership signature of Ed Hagenbach, presumably the noted Swiss physician and chemist. Very good. Item #WRCAM53209
The rare first edition, first issue, second imprint (the first Susse Freres issue) of this landmark work in the invention of photography. The first issue is known in only three copies, so this is practically the earliest obtainable edition of the first account of the invention of Daguerre's process. The first issue of this work and the production of the first commercially-available apparatus had been entrusted to Giroux, Mdme. Daguerre's kinsman and Daguerre's partner. The text was clouded in secrecy and publication was dated August 18 to coincide with the unveiling of the first commercially-produced Daguerreotype cameras. The entire supply sold out in the first few hours. The present issue was published the next month, on September 14, presumably to coincide with a new batch of equipment which Daguerre's team also supplied. Such was the demand for Daguerre's cameras that by the end of 1840, almost forty versions of this work had been published in at least eight different languages. Interestingly, Pierre G. Harmant argues convincingly in an article in HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY: AN INTERNATIONAL QUARTERLY (January 1977, pp.79-83) that the first copy Daguerre saw of his manual on September 7, the date of his first public presentation, actually bore the imprint of Susse Freres, not the slightly earlier imprint from Giroux. Daguerre's groundbreaking manual describes his invention of the daguerreotype process, the first widely popular photographic method, involving the creation of a direct positive image on a sheet of polished copper which was coated with a solution of light-sensitive silver halide. This process is illustrated in the six plates contained herein. Along with official documents relating to the French government's review of Daguerre's procedure, it includes a transcription of Niepce's own description of his heliographic process, submitted to Daguerre in 1839. The Daguerreotype remained the most popular photographic medium until it was supplanted by the collodion wet-plate process in the 1850s. ""Perhaps no other invention ever captured the imagination of the public to such a degree and conquered the world with such lightning rapidity as the daguerreotype" - Gernsheim. "No one individual can be called the true inventor of photography, but Daguerre's technique of fixing photographic images on a metallic surface was the first to capture the public's curiosity and imagination, bringing photography out of the laboratories of a few researchers into the mass market" - Norman. A true incunable among the early literature relating to photographic processes. HORBLIT 21a. NORMAN COLLECTION 569. NORMAN SALE 1004. EN FRANCAIS DANS LE TEXTE 255. PRINTING AND THE MIND OF MAN 318b (ref). DIBNER, HERALDS OF SCIENCE 183. Helmut and Alison Gernsheim: L.J.M. DAGUERRE (London: Secker & Warburg, 1956, pp.191-98). Helmut and Alison Gernsheim: THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY (London: Thames and Hudson, 1969, pp.65-74). Beaumont Newhall: AN HISTORICAL & DESCRIPTIVE ACCOUNT OF THE VARIOUS PROCESSES OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE & THE DIORAMA BY DAGUERRE (New York: Winterhouse, 1971, pp.269-77). Beaumont Newhall, "Chronicle of the Birth of Photography," in HARVARD LIBRARY BULLETIN, Vol. VII, No. 2, Spring 1953, pp.208-220.